According to an Eventbrite survey, 78% of Millennials (Americans born between 1981 and 1997) would rather spend money on experiences than material purchases, and 55% reported they’re spending more on live events than they ever had.
These aren’t just empty words: More than 82% of Millennials surveyed attended or participated in more than one live experience in the past 12 months, and 72% said they would like to increase their spending on live events next year.
This shift in buyer behavior is making waves in event attendance across the country. Between 2014 and 2015, Live Nation reported an 8% growth in attendance, reaching a record 63 million participants, and this year’s ticket sales are already pacing 10% ahead of last year’s, according to its first quarter report. Disney parks are meeting those numbers step for step: According to its first fiscal quarter report, there’s been a 10% increase in attendance at the company’s American parks and a 7% rise in customer spending in food, drinks, admission, and merchandise.
But this growth isn’t limited to obvious attractions like theme parks and concerts. Las Vegas has had two record-breaking years for tourism. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas broke its 2014 record of 41.1 million tourists with 2015’s 42 million. And the recent Las Vegas-based CES trade show reported that it brought in more than 170,000 attendees.
Clearly, the Millennial audience has a lot of potential for driving attendance and profitability at live events. But you can’t just build your event and assume Millennials will flock to it. You need to craft an event that actively appeals to them and capitalizes on their unique buying patterns. Here are five ways you can plan your next live event to appeal to Millennials.
1. Cultivate A Holistic Experience
Millennials aren’t as focused on possessions or career status as they are on living meaningful, happy lives—and central to this goal is capturing and sharing the live experiences they engage in.
How you approach your trade show’s opportunities for participation decides whether your company’s efforts will succeed or fail. Digital marketers need to put time and thought into how each event will affect the life span of a Millennial’s engagement with the brand and then create holistic experiences that extend beyond the day of the trade show.
Using platforms like social media and photo sharing to engage Millennials with your brand can yield powerful results—such as Casio’s success in crowdsourcing more than 3,000 photos of teens wearing their watches via Instagram.
2. Don’t Overstuff Technology
If your approach to trade show technology is to grab the latest 3D television and some virtual reality goggles, your booth won’t blow Millennials away. Technology for technology’s sake is a waste of time. Millennials want connection and collaboration, not just fancy gadgets.
Instead of jumping on the latest craze, selectively choose technology that provides a deeper, multiplatform experience for attendees. Gamification is a great example of a technology that impresses while offering connection. Millennials are predisposed to learn through play, picking up technology as they go and adapting to it. A custom game for your booth can help your brand deliver its message while providing an interesting, fun experience.
3. Help Millennials Get Their Hands Dirty
You won’t find a more connected, social group than Millennials. Yet so many trade show booths focus on giving attendees a private brand experience through brochures, info sheets, and passive video clips.
Millennials want to be involved. According to research from bestselling author Dan Schawbel, 73% of Millennials want to be a part of live polls during event sessions. Give them the interactive experience they want by using your trade show booth to connect them with people who share common interests and causes. Engage Millennial attendees with live polling to create a stronger group experience that leaves everyone feeling deeply involved.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative And Bold
Nothing sparks the imagination like a truly creative trade show booth. Give Millennials a unique experience by brainstorming a creative take on your product or service.
For example, at a recent trade show, one brand turned its booth into a Guitar Hero tribute with guitars, colorful lights, and several famous musicians. The booth was three times more packed than any other because its operators turned its vibe from a stuffy business display to a true celebration of their brand. It takes planning and effort, but it’s an opportunity anyone could—and should—capitalize on.
5. Don’t Forget About Last-Minute Customers
Millennials are always interested in a good bargain. Ipsos’ “The Road to Rewards: What Drives Millennial Loyalty?” report matches Millennial spending habits with social media behavior and indicates that younger audiences favor discounts over brand loyalty.
This means price can play a big role in making a Millennial interested in attending your trade show. While older audiences might focus more on planning in advance and early bird sales, provide at least one option for last-minute purchasers to jump on a day-of or night-before deal.
As Millennials continue to be strong players in the live event and trade show market, it’s worth ramping up your digital marketing efforts to tap into the buying power of this group. Use these tips to make your next event an enticing live experience for Millennials to engage in.